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Kana vs Kanji your advice needed
Thread poster: Ilay
English to Russian
Jul 30, 2002

Dear Sirs,

I would like to ask for your advice as I am not a linguist myself. I am now developing a Japanese software dictionary. As far as I know there are two ways to write Japanese words in Kana and in Kanji. Is it nesessary to add Kana keyboard or Kanji is enough? Is a Japanese speaking person used to write something in Kana instead of Kanji just for his own purposes?

Thank you for your help.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 11:05
There are 3 writing systems, everybody uses them all, they can be typed phonetically. Jul 30, 2002

In addition to Kanji, there are two \"kana\" systems: hiragana and katakana. Kanji are pictorial, that is, they express an idea or ideas, and can have multiple readings depending on the context. Kana are phonetic; they always read the same way.

The two kana systems are parallel--for each hiragana, there is a corresponding (and usually simpler) katakana. Today, hiragana is used for prepositions, verb or adjective endings (the root may or may not be expressed with kanji, but the part that changes has to be expressed phonetically). It is also used to convey the readings of names or characters that a reader may not know (either because it is rare, or the reader is a child.)

Katakana is most frequently used for terms of foreign origin, which sometimes involve sounds or constructions not found in Japanese. Like the use of italics in English for words of foreign origin, katakana alerts the reader that a word may be unfamiliar, or require special pronunciation. In katakana (and hiragana, but used less frequently), there are special mechanisms for expressed \"v\", \"ti\" and other sounds.

There are over 2000 kanji, but only 50 or so hiragana/katakana. All of them can be entered on any western keyboard, using special software that converts \"romaji\" (\"roman letters\") input of readings into the possible characters. Enter \"ken\", and you get a list of characters or character sequences that can be read \"ken\". There are a few unique things to Japanese keyboards: they have a yen sign, and a key or keys for converting between character entry modes. But it is not difficult at all to use a western keyboard to enter Japanese.

If you are building a software keyboard, you should have three views/entry modes: romaji, katakana, and hiragana. A kanji keyboard would be impractical.

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United States
Local time: 11:05
English to Japanese
How to write Japanese in English Windows Jul 30, 2002

If you want to input Japanese character,

you can do so from English keyboard using Romaji system. explains how you can make English PC Japanese readable & writable.

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Kana vs Kanji your advice needed

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